123. Desert Bus (Penn & Teller’s Smoke and Mirrors)

Desert Bus (Penn & Teller’s Smoke and Mirrors) (1995, Sega CD) by Absolute Entertainment

Current Desert Bus Leaderboard (speedrun.com)

First, let me preface this “review” and synopsis with this statement: any harsh judgment I have for this game is unwarranted, as this was never truly released, and thus undeserved.  That being said, Penn and Teller’s Smoke & Mirrors is a brilliant game made by the comedic duo. 6 games in one!  What a steal! They crafted this disc to be an elaborate troll, both towards the player, and any friends they were able to convince to try it out.  The Nerd’s review says it all, so watch that if you’d like more information.

Desert Bus is a “realistic simulation” of a bus drive from Tucson to Las Vegas.  That’s right, from Arcus to JSR!  Realism is entirely 16-bit here, as there’s no traffic, road hazards, or even turns to navigate.  In fact, this game putts your tour bus along at a steady 45 miles an hour, with a slight pull to the right: it takes just over 8 hours in real-time to make the drive and get a single point.  You can’t clamp the controller, the bus will roll off the road, technically ending your run (a tow truck hooks up to you, and pulls you back to the start, so if you’re 6 hours in, you’ll have to wait 6 hours to try again!).

THIS WAS AWFUL!  Absolutely the worst game I’ve ever played from a gameplay standpoint.  While I totally get the point of this game, playing it in a vacuum would be the worst form of torture you could bestow upon a gamer.  It’s hard for all the wrong reasons… now, how was my experience?

This is not a speedrun, let’s make that clear.  This is an endurance and patience test.  And as a speedrun, this is probably the worst speedrun I have ever done.  That being said, as much as this game would be awful in a vaccum, streaming this was one of my favorite Trials I’ve done yet!  Chat was amazing in keeping my head in the game, and my good buddy Chrispy came over for a visit mid-run!  It was my birthday (yes, I spent my 35th birthday playing Desert Bus!) so he brought me a meal and cake!  It was an amazing experience, and although I cannot recommend this speedrun, if you have a solid chat and an emergency bucket, and you can make it the distance, this is an experience you will never forget.


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